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War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Regie is Eurotrash.

Venerable Opera magazine had better watch its ass, since the publication’s “We Hear That” column will probably be getting a “visit” from the Met’s thugs goons legal counsel any minute now.  For that’s what happens, isn’t is, to anyone who dares to speculate in print about future Met seasons? Well, whilst we anxiously await the news that the staff of Opera have been roughly awakened in the middle of the night and dragged off to  Room 101, let’s take a peek at their predictions.

Well, a Dmitri Tcherniakov Rosenkavalier is certainly unexpected, and goodness knows it should be the strongest possible contrast with the antique staging current at the Met. La Cieca is not so gung-ho over the Roberto Devereux, mostly because David McVicar‘s been in such a dry spell lately, and just at a guess would venture that Angela Meade‘s participation in the project would involve singing Elisabetta in an alternate cast (she’s performed the role before) instead of doing the mezzo role of Sara.


  • Die Fiakermillo says:

    Opera’s We Hear That is famously inaccuarate, so I would bet that the Elizabeth’s are shared between Radvan and Meade. Meade is a star in her own right, not a second soprano, and has sung Elizabeth before. Both have virtues and fans and detractors and that’s what makes it all fun.

    I for one will sorely miss the old R’kav, one Met production that has served the piece admirably and still looks fresh. Replacing it is perverse, and we all can imagine the howls that the Tcherniakov will bring no matter how interesting. Can we guess the cast now -- Garanca, Westbroek, Kathleen Kim, Eric Owens as Faninal and Debbie Voigt as Anina in her new career as a character mezzo.

    For me, the real howler in the We Hear That was Jonathan Kent directing Manon Lescaut at CG. I know the Brits don’t like their italian opera to resemble anything Italian (see McVicker’s Adriana,etc) but it’s Manon Lescaut for God’s sake! The full advent in the 1980′s of British theater directors attacking opera was the beginnning of the end for me, or at least one of many beginnings of many ends.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      McVicar’s production of Adriana did a pretty good job of resembling something French, which is surely more important, since Pappano, the orchestra and the cast were on hand to take care of the Italian angle. You seem like you prefer things to be straight forward, so if Jonathan Kent aims for something resembling France and Louisiana I think things might work out just fine.

      • Die Fiakermillo says:

        Alas Cocky, I prefer my Manon Lescaut to resemble Livorno more that Le Havre or Risholme. Give me Magda and a piece of fake rock and a dingy backdrop anyday, singing like her lungs were on fire, than a carefully rehearsed ensemble amidst vrai Louisiana desert tumbleweeds. I found the ROH Adrian as overproduced and overpopulated as I found Gugu undervoiced and preening. Thank Gods for Kaufmann -- now he’s Italian! And please note I am not knocking Jonathan Kent as a director -- I liked the Broadway Faith Healer, the Santa Fe Tempest and Lucio Silla and his Glyndebourne Turn of the Screw. I guess I just find it funny/apalling/so not surprising the ROH wants their Italian rep to look and feel like a Handel opera.

        • Cocky Kurwenal says:

          Why so cynical? There isn’t one Handel opera on his agent biography. His ROH Tosca is not without its issues, but there is nothing un-Italian about it, and it delivers in terms of both spectacle and atmosphere.

          • Die Fiakermillo says:

            Sorry Cocky -- don’t mean to be cynical but have had too many evenings in the last ten years at the ROH that have left me feeling defeated, and not just of Italian rep. Having Pappano is an imnportant asset and the level of the chorus is very high, but I think my aesthetic and the house’s are just very different. I could add this isn’t only the case at the ROH, btw.

            My meaning is a piece of melodrama like Manon Lescaut should be staged with an understanding of the idiom, not a fear for oversized emotion which I have seen and felt many times at the ROH. Based on the work of his I’ve seen, Kent does not seem to me to be the right fit but it is clear the ROH likes his approach, so they hired him and I wish him luck.

            I did not see the Tosca in the house so can’t comment. The reference to Handel stagings wasn’t meant to apply only to Kent or to Handel but to a crisp, Enlightenment, “clever” aesthetic, good and bad, from Miller to Hytner to McVicker which isn’t for me in this kind of rep.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I have to say that I think Kent’s ROH Tosca is pretty dreary, though the petulant Cavaradossi is a good touch and the final act looks good. Act II is washout, just lots of to-ing a fro-ing on a cramped stage, and not much tension at the murder, while the Te Deum is a cop-out with Scarpia singing alone in the cellar!

    • almavivante says:

      I too will miss the Met’s Rosenkavalier, one of their most beautiful productions, still looking sharp and elegant the last time I saw it. I seem to find myself posting here all too frequently about productions I’ve loved that are about to be or have been retired (La Gioconda, Giulio Cesare, et al.). Or I step forward to defend a production others dislike that I find very satisfying (i.e., Aida).

      • CruzSF says:

        Just how old is the current Met Rosenkavalier?

        • armerjacquino says:

          Dates from 1969 iirc.

          • CruzSF says:

            Then people have lost their minds.

          • almavivante says:

            The only reason to retire it would be if it is in such physical disrepair it’s become shaky or unsightly. (This was the case with the gorgeous late-1950s Butterfly production, which used to be the oldest active production remaining in the Met’s repertory; if you scrutinized it with your binocs, you could see how shabby and frowsy around the edges it had become.) In much the same way as the Teatro Colon keeps its inaugural production of Aida in use, as a matter of tradition, I see no reason why select--and I do mean select--Met productions of the first order cannot be retained indefinitely if they are still stageworthy.

          • CruzSF says:

            I can’t think of a single composer that imagined and wanted a production of their work to last almost half a century. It reeks of a limitation of thought, a straitjacket of imagination.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Cruz- absolutely.

            ‘I don’t want this work to be revisited, I want it to be done in exactly the same way for 50 years’: no creative artist, ever.

          • messa di voce says:

            Maybe every opera house in the world should use only precise reproductions of the first staging of every opera? That would certainly satisfy our childish delight in mindless repetition. No matter where in the world you were, you’d know that Rosenkavalier would always look exactly the same.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Like Starbucks.

          • CruzSF says:

            Betsy, my familiarity with the word comes from hard-earned experience, I assure you.

          • La Cieca says:

            I see no reason why select–and I do mean select–Met productions of the first order cannot be retained indefinitely if they are still stageworthy.

            I’ve touched on this before, but a “production” is only in part sets and costumes. The heart of a production is something intangible, an idea, a way of seeing the work and focusing its meaning. This sort of idea is a very perishable thing for two reasons.

            The first is that the idea is there only as long as the person who created the idea is also present: that means for a revival of a production to be genuinely 100% vital, it needs to be done by the original director or at the very least by an assistant who worked very closely with the creation of the staging. The thing is, directors die, or at least get a lot older and not so willing to travel, or else they choose the more prestigious and lucrative path of creating all-new productions at various theaters. So the lifetime of a creator-revived production is always going to be fairly brief.

            The other reason is that while we may have this notion that art is timeless, it really isn’t. We always see art though a lens of our own time. And what’s more, art is always created through a lens of the creator’s own time. A film about Henry VIII created in the 1930s is going to reflect a 1930s sensibility; one from the 1970s a ’70s vibe and so forth.

            Now, this is one issue when dealing with fixed pieces of art like film. But theater is not fixed; essentially, it’s created anew every night. But there is a problem when you are trying to create something new from materials that are 10, 15, or 40 years old.

            The ideas that inspired these productions become old and dated, no matter how profound they are. Some ideas are better able to stand the test of time, which is why there are some productions that hold up better than others. Other productions already seem stale and played out on their first revival because the ideas that inspired them were feeble and ephemeral to begin with.

            There is a further practical problem relating to the physical production, which is that sets and costumes, even those that are “realistically” in period, reflect the favored lines, textures and colors of the fashions of the time in which they were created. Look, for example, at this photo of Lisa della Casa in Le nozze di Figaro.

            The dress suggests the late 18th century setting of the opera only in superficial detail: what is far more apparent to us is how closely this dress resembles couture evening wear of the same period (1950s.

            The same is true of set design: an Aida from the 1970s is going to look like it came from the 1970s, same sense of proportions, similar use of materials to what was going on in architecture and interior design at the time.

            So the answer is that a production has a lifespan that in most cases should be measured in years and not in decades.

          • manou says:

            La Cieca -- the second part of your argument is also very well made by Alan Bennett in his play A Question of Attribution when the Queen and Sir Anthony Blunt discuss the Van Meegeren forgeries, and Blunt points out that one looks at works of art with the “eye” of the prevalent era:

            ( go to 2.53 if this does not work)

            of course in this play the theme is forgery as treachery, but it is interesting nevertheless -- look at all the Hollywood “period” epics of the fifties where all the leading ladies wear cantilevered bras and Ben Nye make-up.

          • manou says:

            OK -- so it does not work -- please click on the second link and go to 2.53.

            My apologies.

          • DurfortDM says:

            La Cieca is, of course, entirely correct. The one caveat is that this critique of the durability of productions, applies a fortiorito Herheim-style Regie. Proper execution of such a production requires not only direct supervision by the director but very extensive rehearsal not only with singers but with orchestra to properly co-ordinate the complex proceedings on stage with those in the pit. This would make a 3rd or 4th revival a half a decade or even less from the premiere, involving some leads not in the original cast and of necessity lacking such rehearsal time and extremely dicey and probably a quite messy proposition. This would seem to make this kind of production generally more appropriate for a festival and perhaps occasional (and well rehearsed) revival at stagione houses rather than for a staple in repertory theaters.

          • Rowna says:

            To CruzSF -- How can you know what composers wanted re productions and how long they should last? For all any of us know, I don’t think this ever crossed their minds. Hard to interview Verdi, Puccini or Wagner today. If you are an opera composer today, you are THRILLED to get one production! If a production is really great, why retire it?

          • armerjacquino says:

            Rowna- none of us can necessarily know (although I bet there’s something on record from one of the composers you cite about his attitude to revivals).

            But ‘we don’t know what they would have thought’ isn’t really a compelling argument for wheeling out the same production over and over again for nearly half a century, is it?

          • CruzSF says:

            Rowna, the history books are filled with discussions and documentary evidence about the conventions of the time. Composers from the time of Mozart and before, and from the bel canto era, often didn’t  expect their operas to run beyond a few years because their audiences preferred the new. Wagner initially wanted his theater burned to the ground after each Ring Cycle. I would expect you to know this since you’re a teacher. 

  • la vociaccia says:

    I rather like the idea of a Kaufmann Des Grieux, in fact that sounds great to my ears. Hopefully Angela will get the whole run of Roberto Devereux, although as previously mentioned the who’s-better hype between her and Rad could create some juicy publicity.

    • fiori says:

      I don’t think anyone has mentioned the upside of this casting. If you look at the original casting The Met had Poplavskaya cast as Elisabetta.
      I really want to like this soprano. When she comes on she looks engaged but her performances I have seen have been so vocally uneven. I just can’t get into her.
      You can’t base a career on having beautiful long blond hair.
      I don’t know if Sondra would be my first choice but she is a fine singer and artist.
      Why, couldn’t they have cast Bartoli who proved herself with La Sonnambula. Or try someone young and exciting like Kurzak, Sills didn’t have a BIG voice but she had the notes and the excitement for the role. I go for excitement I heard MS. Meade in Bolena and found Netrebko much more exciting and involved.
      I think casting this opera today is very hard.I wish them all luck and hopes it works out well.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      la vociaccia, Kaufmann’s Des Grieux at LOC was excellent (Dessay was the Manon).

  • Byrnham Woode says:

    So the ROSENKAVALIER gets the hook after roughly 47 years since it’s premiere. I can’t complain at that, no matter how well the sets and costumes have been refurbished (two restorations have been done, I think). It’s simply time for the company to approach the work differently.

    HOFFMANN was gone after 25 plus years, and the world’s only “realistic” RING was replaced after 22 years. We just “lost” TOSCA after similar yardage. It is necessary for this kind of “change” to happen, or the company will atrophy. You can’t just keep putting the singers through their paces with some assistant director trying to follow the notes in the production book.

  • Hippolyte says:

    Speaking of future MET Strauss productions, the premiere of the Chereau-Salonen Elektra has been announced for July 2013 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival with Herlitzius, Meier, Pieczonka and Petrenko.